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September 17, 2019
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RomArchive Kicks Off with a Festival in Berlin

29.1.2019 13:54
RomArchive - Festival in Berlin
RomArchive - Festival in Berlin

To celebrate the launch of RomArchive (Romano digitalno arxivo), a digital platform that teaches the public about Romani cultures, a festival took place in Berlin beginning on January 24, 2019. Guests at the opening ceremony had the opportunity to see RomArchive‘s web presentation for the first time. It consists of curatorial departments representing literature, visual art, theatre, Holocaust commemoration, as well as six other sections. The curatorial team is comprised of mostly Romani experts, who also contributed in large part to the various events in this week’s festival.

The opening ceremony introduced attendees not only to the founders (Franziska Sauerbrey and Isabel Raabe) and sponsors of RomArchive, but also to some of its contributors and a number of Romani artists. The tone of the evening was set at the beginning with a Romani folk song interpreted by actor Lindy Larsson, clothed in a festive outfit and playing the accordion. Longer musical interludes were provided by the Roma and Sinti Philharmonic under the captivating direction of Riccardo Sahiti. The ceremony finished with the international Romani anthem Gelem, gelem (with accompaniment borrowed from the Romani theatre production Roma Armee), just before the RomArchive website went live to the sounds of applause and a confetti canon. 

Arguably the most prominent speaker of the evening was Romani Rose, head of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma and a longtime activist for human rights as well as for dignified Holocaust commemoration. Mr. Rose is also a member of RomArchive’s advisory board, along with Jana Horvathova (director of the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno), several university professors, and others.

The program continued over the subsequent hours and days with a mix of publicly accessible presentations, exhibits/installations, and performances. Among others, it is surely worth mentioning the reading of Sinti author Anita Awosusi and Serbian-German Romani writer Jovan Nikolić, paired with presentations by Drs. Beate Eder-Jordan and Sofiya Zahova. Expert presentations also included a discussion of the Romani civil rights movement, which featured the voices of Romani public intellectuals such as MEP Soraya Post.

Many of the festival visitors undoubtedly had their most powerful experience thanks to the concert of Dorantes, the prominent composer and pianist from Spain who has created a peerless synthesis of flamenco, classical music and jazz. His program included, in roughly equal parts, pieces that provoked compelling thoughts and indescribable emotions (for example, something like a polyphonic setting of flamenco modes with a Debussian influence), as well as intricately developed rhythms in a dizzyingly complicated conversation with the percussionist on the opposite side of the stage. The audience was likewise taken by the dance style of Ursula Lopez, particularly her expressive arm movements and the way her footwork highlighted certain passages in Dorantes’s compositions.

The festival is set to continue next month in Germany, Hungary, and Romania.

The complete festival program can be found here: https://blog.romarchive.eu/?p=10081

RomArchive website (in Romani, English, and German): www.romarchive.eu.
 

Petra Gelbart
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